Minister Backs Media Complaint in News Fight vs Meta

Numerous media organizations including the CBC filed a complaint against Meta with the Competition Bureau earlier this week, saying the tech giant’s news blocking “creates a major challenge to our democracy.”

Meta is only complying with the recently enacted Online News Act, which wants tech companies to pay news publishers when someone shares a link on Facebook or Instagram, for example.

On Wednesday morning, federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, waded into the media’s fight against Meta.

“I am determined to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that Canadians can have access to reliable news – across all platforms,” said Champagne. “I fully support the complaint made to the Competition Bureau by [Canadian] media groups against Meta in their effort to promote a free & independent press,” he added while reposting a link to a CBC News story regarding the matter.

Champagne is responsible for the Competition Act and also the Commissioner of Competition, but looks to be out of line here supporting an active complaint that is before the Competition Bureau, points out University of Ottawa Law Professor, Michael Geist.

Champagne posted support for media organizations, deleted his post on X and then re-posted a new message, says Geist.

“The tweets from @FP_Champagne are back, now with uncompensated links to news articles. While the government’s position on Bill C-18 and blocked news links is clear, it’s a bad look for the responsible Minister to wade into a complaint this way,” said Geist on Wednesday.

The complaint filed by media organizations to the Competition Bureau about Meta complying with the Online News Act by blocking news, is flawed, says Geist, pointing out that Facebook and Instagram aren’t even the biggest sources of traffic to these news companies.

It seems the federal government doesn’t understand how the internet works. Publishers get traffic when their stories are shared on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram by users. It doesn’t make sense for companies to pay when a link is shared. Now the fallout is here as Meta is just complying with the law and publishers are trying to get ahead of losing traffic from social media.

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